Hanging Around .500 . . . a Lot!

Last time out, we discussed the record for a team alternating wins and losses, both to start a season and within a season.  Now let’s go on a slight tangent and explore the universe of .500 teams.

The record for most different points in the season at .500 while also finishing the season at .500 is held by the 2010 Oakland A’s, which hit .500 for the 33rd time that year in their final game:

Date Tm Opp R RA W-L
Tuesday, Apr 6 OAK SEA W 2 1 1-1
Friday, Apr 30 OAK TOR L 2 10 12-12
Sunday, May 2 OAK TOR L 3 9 13-13
Tuesday, May 4 OAK TEX W 7 6 14-14
Friday, May 7 OAK TBR L 1 4 15-15
Friday, May 14 OAK LAA L 0 4 18-18
Tuesday, May 18 OAK SEA W 6 5 20-20
Saturday, May 22 OAK SFG W 1 0 22-22
Tuesday, May 25 OAK BAL L 1 5 23-23
Saturday, Jun 12 OAK SFG L 4 5 32-32
Tuesday, Jun 15 OAK CHC W 9 5 33-33
Sunday, Jul 18 OAK KCR W 9 6 46-46
Tuesday, Jul 20 OAK BOS W 5 4 47-47
Friday, Jul 23 OAK CHW L 1 5 48-48
Friday, Jul 30 OAK CHW L 1 6 51-51
Sunday, Aug 1 OAK CHW L 1 4 52-52
Tuesday, Aug 3 OAK KCR L 2 3 53-53
Friday, Aug 6 OAK TEX L 1 5 54-54
Tuesday, Aug 10 OAK SEA L 0 2 56-56
Friday, Aug 13 OAK MIN L 3 4 57-57
Thursday, Aug 19 OAK TBR W 4 3 60-60
Saturday, Aug 21 OAK TBR L 4 5 61-61
Tuesday, Aug 24 OAK CLE W 5 0 62-62
Thursday, Aug 26 OAK CLE L 2 3 63-63
Saturday, Aug 28 OAK TEX W 5 0 64-64
Monday, Aug 30 OAK NYY L 5 11 65-65
Friday, Sep 10 OAK BOS W 5 0 70-70
Sunday, Sep 12 OAK BOS L 3 5 71-71
Tuesday, Sep 14 OAK KCR L 3 11 72-72
Friday, Sep 17 OAK MIN W 3 1 73-73
Sunday, Sep 19 OAK MIN W 6 2 74-74
Saturday, Sep 25 OAK TEX L 3 4 77-77
Sunday, Oct 3 OAK SEA W 4 3 81-81
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2013.

 

The record for most different points in the season at .500 while NOT finishing the season at .500 is 35, achieved by the 1959 Chicago Cubs.  The Cubbies ended the season at 74-80, having been at .500 after every even number game from game two through 34 (except game six), and not being at .500 after game 100:

Date Tm Opp R RA W-L
Sunday, Apr 12 CHC LAD L 3 5 1-1
Wednesday, Apr 15 CHC SFG L 1 7 2-2
Sunday, Apr 19 CHC LAD L 3 8 4-4
Wednesday, Apr 22 CHC STL L 2 8 5-5
Friday, Apr 24 CHC SFG L 3 4 6-6
Sunday, Apr 26 CHC SFG L 2 3 7-7
Thursday, Apr 30 CHC CIN W 3 2 8-8
Saturday, May 2 CHC PHI W 4 3 9-9
Sunday, May 3 (2) CHC PHI L 4 5 10-10
Tuesday, May 5 CHC PIT W 6 3 11-11
Thursday, May 7 CHC STL L 3 4 12-12
Saturday, May 9 CHC STL L 1 11 13-13
Sunday, May 10 (2) CHC STL L 7 8 14-14
Tuesday, May 12 CHC MLN W 7 3 15-15
Thursday, May 14 CHC CIN L 0 2 16-16
Sunday, May 17 (1) CHC PIT L 4 5 17-17
Saturday, May 23 CHC STL L 1 5 20-20
Monday, May 25 CHC STL W 9 4 21-21
Thursday, May 28 CHC LAD W 7 5 22-22
Saturday, May 30 CHC SFG L 2 5 23-23
Friday, Jun 5 CHC PIT W 10 5 25-25
Friday, Jun 19 CHC PHI L 7 8 32-32
Sunday, Jun 21 CHC PHI W 4 0 33-33
Wednesday, Jun 24 CHC CIN L 0 5 34-34
Friday, Jun 26 CHC MLN L 1 11 35-35
Sunday, Jun 28 CHC MLN L 1 2 36-36
Wednesday, Jul 1 CHC STL W 6 5 37-37
Friday, Jul 3 CHC SFG L 0 4 38-38
Saturday, Jul 4 (2) CHC LAD L 2 5 39-39
Thursday, Jul 16 CHC MLN W 4 2 44-44
Saturday, Jul 18 CHC CIN L 1 5 45-45
Tuesday, Jul 21 CHC STL W 8 2 46-46
Thursday, Jul 23 CHC LAD L 3 5 47-47
Saturday, Jul 25 CHC SFG W 5 3 48-48
Thursday, Jul 30 CHC MLN L 2 6 50-50
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2013.

No team has ever finished at .500, with the final game of the season representing their ONLY time at .500 that year.  The closest we’ve come to that is the one time that the 1979 Twins and 2007 Dodgers, who each finished 82-80, stopped at 500.  The Twins hit the .500 mark at 32-32, and the Dodgers’ did it at 2-2.

The record for smallest span between a team’s best and worst in-season record relative to .500 is eight games, by the 1948 Detroit Tigers.  They finished the year two games over .500 at 78-76, with their low-water mark being five under at 62-67 on September 10 and  high-water mark being three over at 28-25 on June 16 (-5 to +3 = 8).  In the 162-game era, the 1964 Dodgers (80-82) had a span of only nine games, with a low-water mark of seven games under at 2-9 on April 25 and the best record at two games over (55-53) on August 8 (-7 to +2 = 9).  The 2011 Blue Jays finished at .500 with a span of only nine games (-5 to +4), tying the record for smallest span by a .500 team.

The 1977 Cubs hold the record for the largest span for a team that finished at .500 (27 games, from -2 to +25).  They were 7-9 on April 30, then went 40-13 for their high-water mark at 47-22 on June 28.

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